How to Become a School Counselor in North Dakota

School counselors can make a tremendous positive impact on schools, students, and families. Some start their careers as teachers and find they enjoy the counseling side of working with students. North Dakota's licensure system is a good fit for teachers looking to shift into counseling, since counselors in North Dakota must hold a teaching license with an additional credential.

A counseling license can open the door to a stable, rewarding career helping others. School counselors in North Dakota earn an average salary of $57,250, slightly above the national average for this profession and well above average wages in the state for all jobs ($49,620). Continue reading to learn more about how to become a guidance counselor in North Dakota.

Counseling License and Career Requirements in North Dakota

Explore more pathways to becoming a counselor in North Dakota here

Education and Experience Requirements

To work as a school counselor in North Dakota, you must meet specific educational and internship requirements. Learn more below about the internships, courses, and degrees you must complete for a career in the field.

Education and Coursework

To qualify for a counseling credential in North Dakota, each applicant must first gain licensure as a professional educator, which requires a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and a minimum GPA of 2.5. Teacher preparation programs must meet the state's program approval standards. To obtain an initial license, each applicant must also complete a course in youth mental health.

North Dakota further requires school counselors to hold a master's degree in counseling, education, or a related field from a state-approved program. This degree must include core coursework in the following areas:

  • Elementary and secondary school counseling
  • Counseling theories and techniques
  • Counseling program management
  • Group counseling
  • Assessment techniques
  • Career counseling
  • Social and multicultural counseling
  • Ethics and law

Licensed teachers with a bachelor's degree may apply for an alternative access license, allowing them to work as a school counselor for up to three years while completing their master's degree.


Interested in pursuing an education in school counseling? Check out the following pages to explore available academic programs by level:


Practicum and Internship

Professional educators in North Dakota must complete a student teaching internship before they can obtain their educator license. To gain a counseling credential, licensed teachers must also finish a master's degree with a 450-hour supervised school counseling internship. Counseling interns must work at least 150 of their contact hours at the elementary and secondary levels.

Application and Exam Requirements for North Dakota School Counselors

The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) and the Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) share responsibility for licensing and credentialing educators in the state. North Dakota requires each school counselor to hold a teaching license with a counselor credential.

To add a counseling credential to a teaching license, a North Dakota educator must complete an approved master's program and counseling internship

To become a licensed educator, applicants must earn American Board certification or complete an approved teacher preparation program at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. Each professional educator in North Dakota must also submit transcripts, pass a background check, and earn passing scores on required Praxis tests. License fees include a $30 initial application fee, $44.50 for fingerprinting, and $75 for an initial 2-year license.

To add a counseling credential to a teaching license, a North Dakota educator must complete an approved master's program and counseling internship. School counselors must also pass the professional school counselor Praxis test.

Out-of-State School Counselor Candidates

Licensed teachers from out-of-state may apply for an other state educator license (OSEL) in North Dakota. OSEL applicants must submit a copy of their valid, verified, current license and pay a $75 license fee. During the online application process, out-of-state applicants learn if they need to take any exams or meet additional requirements.

School Counselor License Maintenance and Renewal Requirements

In North Dakota, educators employed full time must renew their licenses before their birthday, two years after initial licensure and every five years after that. Requirements and fees may vary according to license type. Educators can apply for renewal six months before their given date.

full time counselors in North Dakota must renew their licenses two years after initial licensure and every five years after that

To renew their credential, each counselor must complete four semester hours of graduate work in education, including two in counseling. Counselors may substitute these two hours with 30 clock hours of verified continuing education in counseling. Counselors may request a renewal sooner than required to align their counseling renewal date with their teaching license renewal date.

Resources and Organizations for School Counselors in North Dakota

Government agencies, nonprofits, and professional organizations provide many resources for counseling students and professionals in North Dakota. The organizations listed below provide research, online tools, plus opportunities for professional development and networking.

  • American Counseling Association - Midwest Region This nonprofit represents professional counselors working in many different settings. ACA provides resources for school counselors, including school counseling issue briefs, along with tools for college and career counseling.
  • American Psychological Association The APA offers information, resources, and publications based on psychological research that can help school counselors and counseling students.
  • American School Counselor Association ASCA provides resources for counselors and advocates on behalf of the profession on issues such as counselor-student ratios. This association also offers professional development webinars, networking opportunities, position statements, and awards.
  • Association for Counselor Education and Supervision ACES promotes excellence in counselor education through conferences, a quarterly journal, and leadership opportunities for members. The association also provides opportunities for graduate students to share their research and network with professionals.
  • Council for Exceptional Children CEC promotes the needs of gifted students and learners receiving special education services. Counselors can access information, resources, professional development opportunities, and professional standards to assist them in their work with these students and their families.
  • Dakota Association for College Admission Counseling This two-state affiliate for a national association helps students and their counselors with post-secondary planning. The ND Council of the DACAC sponsors college fairs and offers resources for high school counselors.
  • National Career Development Association This association provides professional development information and certification for career counselors. NCDA also promotes ethical guidelines, offers publications and legislative updates, and career assistance.
  • North Dakota Career Resource Network This state resource provides college and career planning resources for parents, students, and educators, including an online tool for students to explore career possibilities and create planning timelines.
  • North Dakota Department of Public Instruction This page offers information on state programs and services that impact educators. Topics include educational equity, multicultural education, school safety, and special education.
  • North Dakota School Counselor Association NDSTA advocates for school counselors in the state and the students they serve. The association offers online professional development opportunities, conferences, counselor documents, job postings, awards, and mentoring.

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